(”Love Story” is briefly mentioned in this.)
HH: It’s Thursday, and as it is we are lucky, we’ve got Mark Steyn in the house. Hello, Mark, greetings, where do we find you today?
MS: I’m in the great state of New Hampshire today, Hugh.
HH: Back in the States. That’s great. Now Mark, I have an idea, and you sometimes don’t accept my ideas, but I think this one’s really good.
HH: You know, I raise a lot of funds for causes like the Semper Fi Fund and Fisher House and Hillsdale. So I think if we go to Colorado, I think for $1,000, maybe even $2,500 dollars a seat, we get some Tim Horton doughnuts, little Canadian flavor, and inspired by Maureen Dowd, we add some completely legal Colorado dope, and an hour later, you take the stage and you explain the President’s West Point speech and the deal with the Taliban. We call it Stoned On Steyn. What do you think?
MS: (laughing) Well, you know, the problem with that is you don’t need to pay $2,500 dollars to hear stoners explaining U.S. Government policy, because the quality of the people who are actually out there representing America to the world might as well be on marijuana-infused Tim Horton’s Doughnuts. It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about the Benghazi dude. That was like, well, that like so two years ago, dude, that guy.
HH: Tommy Vietor.
MS: Or Benghazi dude’s sister, who is now in charge of the State Department, apparently, the chicky with the smarty girl glasses who was saying okay, so like these soldiers think they like know so much just because they were totally like over there, but that’s not the whole story. You don’t need to pay, you don’t need to actually hire stoned Coloradans. We might as well be having them running the place.
HH: Well, I just think that you might actually be able to, I’m not suggesting you have any of the Tim Horton’s Doughnuts that are Dowded up. I just want you to try and make sense. I want to play a little bit of the President’s West Point speech, and I don’t know if anyone would understand this, stoned or not, but here’s what he had to say.
BO: In fact, by most measures, America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world. Those who argue otherwise, who suggest that America is in decline or has seen its global leadership slip away are either misreading history or engaged in partisan politics.
HH: Now Mark Steyn, given that your last two books have done little other than argue those points, I guess you’re either engaged in partisan politics or, I don’t know, stoned.
MS: Well look, they’re now saying that China will become the world’s number one economy before the end of the year. I don’t know whether that’s true. In my book, the only thing After America got wrong, I think, was that I failed to see how swiftly the whole thing would happen. I think in After America, I predicted, I used the Goldman Sachs thing, that China would become the world’s number one economy sometime in the next decade. It’s likely to happen at the end of this year, because the American economy is sluggish and going nowhere. And so Obama is going to finish his term in a position that no U.S. president has been in since I think Grover Cleveland. He’s going to be the number two guy. He’s going to be the global also-ran. So what American leadership? Economic leadership is likely to be gone by the end of the year, geopolitical leadership, he’s out there working, doing his 12 ounce curls in the gym in Warsaw in his mom jeans while Putin’s riding around annexing all kinds of territory, the mullahs are doing what they want, the Politburo’s doing what they want, and the Taliban, who are goat herds with fertilizer, have just beaten the United States of America.
HH: Not just beaten, trounced. There is a story at Time Magazine this afternoon by Aryn Baker that reports the news of the detainees, the Gitmo Five’s release, spread like wildfire. “Besides our field commanders and fighters, our leader Mullah Mohammad Omar is so happy and is anxiously waiting to see his heroes.” It goes on like this. It’s the greatest day since 9/11 for the Taliban, Mark Steyn.
MS: Yes, I think that’s true, and I think that’s what, I think that’s what none of us quite understand. I mean, what happened with this deal is bad on every level. It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking at it from the point of view of the five guys who are going to be wandering around Qatar and then who knows where, it doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about the Bergdahl end, it doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about the strict legality of what Obama did. It doesn’t matter whether you are talking about those creepy, freaky, weirdo optics of the Rose Garden photo op, which is now being seen all around the Muslim world as some kind of Islamic submission by the great Satan, the point of which the dad was doing his Allah the most merciful routine. It doesn’t matter which angle you take. It makes absolutely no sense for the United States.
HH: Do you think we could float the idea that in fact the five terrorists have had GPS or listening devices implanted in them so you might not want to sit next to them at the next whatever they call their big get-togethers?
MS: (laughing) I was listening to you talking to Alex Berenson.
MS: And I think you made the point that the only plausible, Alex Berenson is a liberal novelist whose character in his thrillers is a fellow who’s been in deep cover in Afghanistan for years.
MS: …and converted to Islam, and then came back and worked for the CIA.
HH: John Wells.
MS: And yeah, if this were a novel, and unfortunately, this is the difference between thrillers and real life. If this were a novel, then this guy, Bergdahl, would be part of some elaborate deep cover thing, and he’d be coming back with all the inside dope on Mullah Omar in preparatory to a raid in which we nail that guy once and for all. But the reality is that life isn’t like a conspiracy thriller, and we aren’t that good. In fact, we’re pathetic. We’re pathetic. And I wish there were some complex conspiracy theory explanation for this, but the reality of it too bleak and too depressing.
HH: There’s one good aspect, which I want to call your attention to, since you appear not to be willing to sign onto the Stoned On Steyn tour. Maybe this will persuade you. It turns out, according to Time Magazine, in March of 2012, negotiations, same sort of negotiations, were so close that Bergdahl had already been handed over to senior members of the Taliban Council in Afghanistan to take him over the border. Then it collapsed. That means the same or very close to the same deal was contemplated when Hillary was in charge, which means, I don’t know what her memoir is going to say about that. That’s going to be an interesting index to see if we can find Bergdahl in the index of Hillary’s memoir. But there’s another stone on the top of her ambition to become president, because she was all for this.
MS: Yeah, I think it’s very interesting. I mean, there’s competing views on this. And it’s interesting to me that for example, Leon Panetta, who was previously Defense Secretary, was opposed to this. And it’s disturbing to me, because I think there’s only two possibilities. One is that these guys are just clueless, and the other is something slightly more complex, that Obama actually thinks that strengthening the Taliban is part of his view for the new world he’s bringing into being. I remember I had a lunch with a very prominent Republican figure just before Obama became president, and I was all unnerved about it, and he said well, don’t worry, you know, okay, Obama doesn’t seem to know anything, he’s a community organizer, he’s a left winger. But the usual guys are going to be in charge. And he implied that around Obama, there would be like Lloyd Bentsen figures preventing this stuff from happening. And the reality is the only Lloyd Bentsen figure in this administration, the Lloyd Bentsen part is being played by Joe Biden, which is dumber than getting it played by Leslie Nielsen. There’s just nobody, there’s nobody with a serious worldview in this administration.
HH: No, you’re right. Rumsfeld used to say A’s hire A’s, B’s hire C’s. Well, we’re down below the C’s. As you point out, the good old days when Tommy Vietor was running around the NSC and running things, dude boy, there’s nobody left in this administration, Mark Steyn, and we have 30 months to go.
MS: Yeah, and I think that’s the incredible thing. At some point, the benign explanation for this hideous ceremony at the White House last weekend, which is astonishing to me, because I know, or everybody is very careful. You have to undergo a background check normally just to get into a presidential event now. You’ve got to give your Social Security number, they run it, they see who you are and everything. To get on a stage with a head of state, they normally want you to know what you’re going to be saying beforehand. And the fact that you know, Obama’s words in Brussels today, for example, saying well, this was a father and his child, his 28 year old whatever that is, grade 23 child, you know, every parent wants to get their grade 23 child back. The fact of the matter…and we don’t leave anyone behind. The fact is, he walked out and he left America behind, this guy, and he did it, by the way, on the advice of his father. He wrote to his father saying I hate America, it’s a horror, I want to renounce my citizenship. And his father emails back, follow your conscience.
HH: Oh, my God. Stay right there, Mark Steyn. It’s a doubleheader, Steyn doubleheader as we begin the Stoned On Steyn tour, a little taste here on the Hugh Hewitt Show
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HH: I am the self-appointed promoter of the new Stoned On Steyn tour, which can only actually play in Colorado and Washington State. Mark would not himself be under the influence, but we would invite everyone else to have Tim Horton’s Doughnuts, Dowd Doughnuts, we’d call them, laced with dope to listen to his explanation of the President’s foreign policy. Mark, during the break, I saw a story by James Rosen over at Fox News. U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl at one point during his captivity converted to Islam, fraternized openly with his captors, declared himself a mujahid, a warrior for Islam, according to secret documents prepared on the basis of a purported eyewitness account, and obtained by Fox News. The same report goes on, however, to quote General James Mattis, who may be, I think, one of the most influential and smart guys in the world, as saying there was absolutely never any evidence of collaboration. I think there’s a lot of evidence of stupidity running around here, and it’s not just in the Bergdahl family. It’s in everyone who handled this episode.
MS: Yes, I think that’s right. I mean, you’re talking about in a sane world, would you want the optics of the President standing next to this guy with the big beard talking in Arabic, talking in Pashto and all the rest of it, about the triumph of getting back a guy who at best is a deserter and at worst is something dying. Now look, the Afghan war is America’s longest war. It’s going to be, it’s been America’s longest un-won war for quite a while. And about ten minutes after the last NATO soldier leaves, it’s going to be America’s longest lost war. That’s just the situation we’re in. And that being so, though, granted all that, one can understand the guys out there fighting this thankless war at the sharp end, that the strain is incredible. The point I was making just before the break, though, is that his dad back in Idaho, who isn’t under any strain or whatever, actually advised his son in this email…
MS: …to go and desert. Now all these people, this is the most lavishly-funded government on the planet. Where is there, why can’t they do ten minutes of Googling and then say do we want the President standing next to this fellow given what’s going on? Why didn’t they look at the Rolling Stone piece? Why didn’t they look at the Daily Mail story from 2010? And the question here then become well, maybe they did, and they still didn’t care. And if that’s the case, then this isn’t about the Bergdahl family, and it isn’t about the five guys, the big Taliban dream team. It’s about a much darker, moral relativist, emptiness at the heart of the global superpower.
HH: Now Mark, on that note, I want to model President Obama’s focus and seriousness by switching to the subject of disco. And I want to do that based upon what you wrote today over at www.steynonline.com, and in what must have been a seriously deranged piece of writing that suggested to me, originally, actually, the Stoned On Steyn tour, because you wrote, and I think you were serious, that there was great music buried somewhere in Andy Williams’ blockbuster arrangement of Where Do I Begin.
HH: So you’re standing by that assertion?
MS: I am. And you know, Where Do I Begin, Andy Williams had, it’s the big theme from Love Story, which was based on Al Gore, according to Al Gore. But Love Story was a blockbuster movie in the beginning of the 70s, and the big theme from it became a boffo easy listening smash for Andy Williams. And at the end of the 70s, like everybody else, and like I did with Marshmallow World a couple of years ago, and like Bob Dylan in a couple of years when he’s doing the disco version of Like A Rolling Stone, Andy Williams did a disco version that you just played a bit of, of Where Do I Begin. And I listened to that thinking it was just going to be a laugh, and it was going to be the cheesiest thing since the extra cheesy cheesecloth shirt was invented, and I in fact, I thought wow, this guy, Andy is like really into, I don’t know, it’s not a big record, I don’t know how many dance floors is ever packed, but the disco version of Andy Williams doing the theme from Love Story, I would, I don’t have to be stoned. I don’t have to be Tim Horton’s Doughnuts, and you know, if you’re trying to make a big deal about this, then you know, I will fight you. I will fight you like these Taliban guys out of Gitmo over the right to play Andy Williams’ disco record.
HH: Well, then you went further. And I…I’m not making this up. I encourage all of the audience to head over to www.steynonline.com. I’m not making this up. Mark Steyn actually defends the string arrangements on Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive.
HH: Was this a slow day in New Hampshire?
MS: No. They’re great string arrangements, and by the way, you know, I Will Survive is, it ought well to be the national anthem of this country with a big question mark at the end of it.
MS: So don’t blame me if the current state of things, I’m channeling Gloria Gaynor.
HH: You also channeled Last Dance by…this was really one of the more remarkable Steyn pieces I’ve read in a long time, so I just wanted to do a checkup on you. Are you back in the studio with Jessica?
MS: (laughing) Well, you know something, after we did the disco version of Marshmallow World, where we stole, I basically stole Last Dance for the front of that record…
MS: And at the end of it, our conductor and arranger, Kevin Amos, who basically spent the 1970s boogying to Mahler, so this was like fairly…and the band had all been depressed when they came in. We said okay, we’re doing a disco version of Marshmallow World. They were thinking oh, God, sell out, I hope my name’s not on it. And at the end of it, everyone goes wow, this is great. And like Kevin goes from now on, we’re only going to do disco records.
HH: So are you back in studio?
MS: So I stand by disco. If we can’t win the Afghan war, but I’m going to win the disco war.
HH: Well, if the world’s going to hell, and the President’s West Point, and by the way, on a serious note, the West Point speech may have been the worst speech ever given by a president at any occasion, much less on the grounds of one of our military academies. It truly was incoherent, Mark.
MS: Oh, absolutely, and that’s what I mean about the 12 year old pajamas boys running things. I mean, he said, he defined American exceptionalism. He goes what makes us exceptional? He actually said this. What makes us exceptional is that we live up to international norms. Well, by definition, if it’s a norm, you can’t be execeptional.
HH: You’re not exceptional. Yes.
MS: Sweden lives up to international norms. New Zealand lives up to international norms. But the 12 year old pajama boy who wrote that didn’t think it was idiotic, and the President didn’t care enough not to do anything but just slough it off in that usual Wimbledon-ping pong rally thing, where he swivels from left teleprompter to right teleprompter with that glassy-eyed look on his face as if he’d rather, you know, he can’t wait to get back on the golf course. And nobody cares. They don’t care about the words they put in this guy’s mouth, and he doesn’t care what rubbish he utters.
HH: Yeah, where have all the speechwriters gone? A last 30 seconds, you’re sad to see Juan Carlos leave his crown on the chair and leave the room?
MS: Well, he was, I mean, and this is, we mock, you know, Obama and all the rest of it. But sometimes, you know, you need the right guy in the job to make the difference. And in 1981, when Spain’s democracy was barely out of its cradle, and there was an attempted fascist coup, and it looked like we were going to go back to the Franco days, Juan Carlos actually all but single handedly saved Spanish democracy when he stood against the coup and he went on TV to stand against the coup. And that should remind us. It’s not a small thing when your leadership is empty and hollow. Sometimes, you might…
HH: You might need it. Mark Steyn, always a pleasure, www.steynonline.com, America.
End of interview.